In this article we will look at the process for how to design a no-code app, looking at six simple steps to follow, as well as guidance if you need to make a more advanced app.
Why A No-Code App?
The article assumes you are going to build your vision using no-code app development but why is that the case? You could just as easily develop using traditional development yourself, hiring a development agency etc…
No-code platforms are perfect for building an app at speed and for a fraction of the cost of traditional coding. The platforms come built with templates and pre-built functionality which means you don’t have to recreate many of the standard features you’d expect, thus less time is needed to develop your app.
It also means that parts of development can be done by people with no coding skills at all and if you do need some support, no-code experts are readily available and don’t cost the incredibly high fees now commanded by mainstream developers. The standard nature of the platforms means ongoing maintenance will be much easier as well.
So if you are looking to build your first app, start up a business or trying to evolve your current model in the most cost-effective way possible then no-code app development is the route for you. So let us look at a simple process to help with your no-code design.
When you think about how to design a no-code app, there is a simple six-step process to follow that will enable businesses to produce exactly what they need. For some, there might need to be additional work and support needed, which we address at the end.
The idea - For most, they will already have an idea of what they want to achieve with their no-code app development but even then, it is important to flesh out the idea and articulate the details, the end goals and ultimately why someone would download the app.
Talk to customers - Verify your idea with people that would download it. Get into online groups and engage with people, drop elements of the idea into Reddit chats or ask a question on Quora. Utilize the online community to judge people's responses to what they would do if this idea existed.
Competitors - Before going too far, have a look to see what other apps already exist in your area. Don’t be worried if lots already cover your idea, that means it's popular and has a proven market. Think about how you can do it better, look at competitors and see the things people don’t like and improve on that.
Target Audience - Who do you want to download your app. Understand them like a close friend so you can decide what they want in the app, the messaging you’ll use to attract them and the places they hang out so you can find them.
Wireframe - Once you are happy that the idea is a good one, you need to put the detail down and pull together a simple wireframe. Never over-engineer this, it’s just to give an idea of the features you need, the journeys you want the customer to take and what elements are essential vs nice to have.
Ambition - You need to be clear on the goals and how big you want this app to become, as that will play a significant part in how you go about developing it.
By completing all of the above, you should have a requirements document, which you will need if you are looking to build the app yourself or asking a third party to produce it for you. It will be clear what user stories you are looking to fulfil and the requirements for the development, with a focus on the minimum viable product.
2. Choose a platform
There are new no-code platforms being created every year and they range from general tools to ones focused on either specific functionality (like workflow management) or individual sectors (like finance). This throws up the challenge of how to select the right platform for your business.
This is why we do the planning stage before selecting the platform because it will give you the information you need to pick the right one for you. Questions to consider when selecting your platform.
- Does it cover all the features you have put in your wireframe?
- Can you find use cases to show it handling the functionality you need?
- Do they have case studies that cover your sector?
- How scalable is the platform and does it cater for your ambitions
- Does it include features like a database or hosting? If you require either then that’s an important factor to consider
- What is the quality and relevance of their template library
- What level of customization does it allow?
In addition to checking it covers all of your needs, start looking at online reviews of the platform, taking careful stock of who is leaving the reviews and how real they are. You are often safer using larger review sites like G2 for this sort of thing.
It is also worth checking out their trial offers. Many of the platforms will offer a free trial so you can see if it does what you expect - try before you buy.
3. Choose a template
Once you’ve selected your platform, you can begin the process of building your app. All of the platforms will come with templates that you can use. Some will be built into the price of the platform and others might have premium templates that you need to pay extra for.
Look through the template library and find one that fits your needs. How you select your template will depend on the platform. Some, like Bubble, will have categories for you to choose from, like ‘project management’ or ‘social’; whilst others, like AppInstitute, will have templates by sector, for example ‘coffee shop’ or ‘estate agent’. Many will offer a blend of options.
Each template will outline the options that exist, the types of features and functionality that are built within them as standard. For example, an eCommerce template will have account management functionality, a basket, the ability to sign in and other elements that all eCommerce apps will need.
Remember that the template is just a base and your app is not limited to what exists. You will be able to add extra functions to the app as needed, either selecting options from the platform or adding custom code yourself (or using a thirty party - more on that later).
You can also remove functionality you don’t intend to use - don’t want a loyalty programme in your eCommerce app, just turn it off.
If you are looking for free support on what platform and templates to use for your development, give us a call and we will help you build out your roadmap
4. Brand your app
You’ve picked a template to start building out your app and now you need to work on what your app looks like, branding it to look and feel like your company's identity.
You’ll start by selecting the color scheme for your company. Traditionally these would be based on your brand colors but you have the option to change that slightly if you want the app to feel like yours but with its own individualism. Some of the platforms actually connect to your website and pull through your brand colors directly.
You will also be able to upload your logo as you start to give the app its own identity. Remember to select an app icon at this point, which will appear when someone sees it to download.
5. Add content
Next up it’s time to add in the content and make the app your own. You can start to add in the labels you want, change the text to be more appropriate, for example, change what it says on the about us to be more relevant - you’ll usually be provided with the text to start with then the option to edit.
Another key piece of content will be uploading images that you want. These are a great way of making your app stand out from others. Try and avoid the more generic stock photos, search for more unusual and original images or even use your own photography.
6. Publish and promote
Whichever platforms you are looking to publish your app onto (Google, Apple, Self-hosted) you will need to ensure you have a strong description and then think carefully about where to promote your app.
Whilst some people will come onto app stores and search for specific apps, the majority of your traffic is going to come from promoting your app. This is why it was important to understand your customer in the planning stage because that will help inform where you will find them and what to say to attract their attention.
Now For Something More Advanced
For many businesses, the process above will get them an app that fits their requirements and they won’t need to go beyond that stage. However, if you are looking for more advanced features, to customize the app or need further support with the development, then there are additional phases that we would recommend you go through.
Picking the right partner
You have the choice of finding a few freelancers or selecting an agency. What you choose will depend on how well you have been able to complete the planning stage. When you have a really strong brief and it's very clear what you expect and will be able to manage people closely, then you’ll find utilizing some good no-code developers will be perfect.
However, if you need a greater level of support then you might need to find an agency that will be able to help with parts of the planning and research that you have not been able to do, although it’s key you sign off on all requirements.
If you are looking for a partner that can help you build your requirements and find you top-rated no-code experts, then we offer a free consultation. During this call, we will help you write a roadmap for what you need and discuss the type of candidates you should be looking for.